The Midnight River Crew – The Girl Who Knew Too Much | Swing Groove
The Midnight River Crew (or MRC) is a collaborative project, started by English musician, Mark Johnson. Johnson writes the songs which are then recorded by him and collaborating artists. In an interview with Stirling City Radio, Johnson compared his songwriting to a pendulum, stating that when the pendulum strikes the bottom of the arc, he knows it’s ready to be recorded.
The Girl Who Knew Too Much is a track with such grace. The Midnight River Crew has created a piece of art with such organic elements. The piano (Isabella Coulstock) and drums (Paul Midcalf) give The Girl Who Knew Too Much this classic feeling that drives the track forward. I especially like the strings (Judith Hillier) that are so subtle initially but have their moments in the spotlight. The strings really create an atmosphere of grandeur that anyone would be able to appreciate. Isabella Coulstock‘s strong vocals power through the mix with such ease and dynamism that it’s enough to melt your heart. Mark Johnson‘s guitar work and vocals are truly inspirational, forming a spine for the whole track. I find the arrangement extremely intriguing. Especially the chorus. Mark Johnson and The Midnight River Crew have really knocked this one out of the park.
I highly recommend The Girl Who Knew Too Much to any fans of pure, organic music. Additionally, we managed to score an interview with Mark Johnson of The Midnight Crew. Read on below for more!
How did you come to create The Midnight River Crew? The MRC are a group of musicians who gather together in the studio to record my songs. I have known and worked with Paul Midcalf for quite some time now. He is the Audio Sorcery recording studio owner and a good musician himself playing Bass and Drums as well as producing most of the MRC sessions. Recently I have added Judith Hillier on violin as our lead and impact instrument, and Isabella Coulstock on vocals and piano. They both bring a lot of skill and talent to the recordings. And a lot of fun! Philip Johnson plays the Uke and assists with pre-production by producing my home demos that are used as a ‘musical brief’ for the other musicians.
How many artists have you collaborated with so far? How many do you wish to collaborate with in the future? I have collaborated with quite a number of other artists both in the writing and recording processes from Sir Ray Davies, Robbie Boyd, and Robin Nixon and others on the writing front. And Sharon Mari and Isabella and others on the recording front. However, it is really not about ‘how many’. It’s about the quality, experience, enthusiasm, and the skills that they bring and add to the collaborative equation that really counts.
What goes into the process of creating an MRC track? I write slowly, usually, it’s lyrics first for me, as I need to work out what I want to say first and then decide how I want to say it by adding the music and arrangement ideas. When I’m happy with a new song idea I make a home demo with Philip and then look to gather the musicians together in the studio. Caroline and Martin Howard have added an extra dimension to each recent track by creating visual storytelling videos.
Do you ever have conflicting ideas when creating music? How do you work through them? Yes. If I run up a ‘blind alley’ with a song so to speak, then I’ll engage with a collaborator to sort it out. I find this works best. I recently collaborated with Matt Ellis on a new recording called ‘Keep Me In Mind’ after I got stuck with my original idea. The recording of this new tune is great, hopefully, it will be on release soon.
How has the pandemic impacted your ability to record tracks? How have you coped with it? Yes, it’s had a big impact. I have been able to make my home demos of course, but getting musicians together in the studio has proved difficult. Making sure that people are safe from virus transmission and comfortable in those close, indoor surroundings.
What are the central themes of MRC music? Melody. Quality. Professionalism and Variety.